With just a couple of days left in 2012, I figured this was the perfect time to reflect on this past year and sort out my hopes and goals for 2013. Alongside the typical resolutions that fall between the lines of keeping a healthy figure, better money management, allowing more personal time for myself, and of course lots of traveling, I find it inappropriate to exclude my wine drinking resolutions. In an industry ruled by an arsenal of heavy hitters like Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Brunello, etc, it can be difficult at times to leave enough room on your palate for many of the other fascinating and complex wines that this world has to offer. Looking over a year’s worth of scattered wine notes, I came to the conclusion of a few types of wine I find necessary for me to make sure I take the time to taste more frequently. Here they are as part of my New Year’s resolution along with a delicious example that I did actually manage to taste this year.
Non-Champagne Sparkling Wines
The word “Champagne” and the concept of sparkling wine have gone together like peanut butter and jelly for so long now that many of us seem to forget one thing…peanut butter is also great with bananas as well. In this day and age, Champagne is not the only region utilizing the traditional method of high quality production; several Old World and New World regions are now using this method, too. With some of these including Crémant de Bourgogne, Cava, certain Prosecco from Valdobbiadene DOCG, and even the California-based producer Korbel, it’s important to notice the plethora of interesting sparkling wines that can also be enjoyed for their superb quality. Now realistically, my love affair with grower Champagne will likely never be compromised, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t step out of the Champagne box every so often to taste others that have taken a similar path.
Schloss Gobelsburg Brut Reserve NV – Niederösterreich, Austria
An enticing blend of Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, and Pinot Noir, this charming sparkling wine has electrifying acidity that promenades with its ultra-smooth bubbles. As in a delectable summer salad, notes of green apple, lime, jasmine, and candied walnuts played on the palate and were followed by a toasted nutty finish.
Cornas, Nothern Rhone, France
As one of Rhone’s smallest appellations and its Celtic translation meaning ‘burnt earth’, Cornas is composed of sun-kissed amphitheater shaped vineyards planted with 100% Syrah grapes. Though not yet as refined as the neighboring Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage, this diamond in the rough produces full bodied wines with firm tannin structure and incredible aging potential. On an even better note, the price point for these little jewels tends to be slightly more modest than some of the other regal reds of northern Rhone.
Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas 2006 – Cornas, Northern Rhone, France
A wine that is both powerful with a voluptuous body yet refreshingly smooth with its brisk acidity and velvety tannin. Expressing its full complexity in a trifecta of herbal, savory, and bit of fruity zest; notes of black plum, dried citrus peel, dill, black olives, violet, wet soil, savory spice, and meatiness were all wonderfully culminated with a Puerh tea-like finish.
Poor, poor Sherry…so underappreciated, so overlooked. Produced in such a wide range of styles and serving so many different purposes, I cringe at the fact that not only does much of the world seem to shun these, but I myself don’t show nearly enough appreciation that Sherry rightfully deserves. From the pale, dry, crisp, and tangy Fino Sherry; to the deep, sweet, and nutty Oloroso Sherry; and Amontillado serving as the middleman, Sherry can find its way to being a brilliant supplement to nearly any scenario. Now it’s just a matter of keeping this in mind the next time you plan a dinner party or order wine at a restaurant.
Lustau East India Solera Sherry – Jerez, Spain
From an assortment of soleras ranging between 15-50 years of age, this Sherry is composed of an older Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez that were both aged separately then later blended together. Displaying a beautiful deep bronze color, this wine has a seductive lusciousness that is perfectly balanced out by the uplifting acidity. Wonderfully complex on both the nose and palate, it carries notes of raisin, dried red currant and fig, and then unfolds into caramel pecans, cocoa, and a nice long nutty finish of toasted almonds and salted walnuts.
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